FdM:Arch’s design of the Byzantine Fresco Chapel reflects the strong role that narrative plays in all of the firm’s work. This serene, symbolic structure restores spiritual significance to two 13th century Byzantine frescoes, a dome and an apse that were rescued from thieves and restored by the client on behalf of the Church of Cyprus.
Every gesture in this project was selected with religious functionality in mind. FdM:Arch accomplished the transposition of the relics to the contemporary site through a mediating external building with an embedded steel structure representing a reliquary box. The dislocation/relocation of the sacred works is represented through an inversion, the ethereal soul is solidified and becomes opaque in the restored frescoes, and the material solidity of the original chapel is shattered and made ephemeral by the fragmented freestanding glass structure.
The immaterial materiality of the infill glass panels intensifies the absence and presence of the original site and transforms the glass structure into an apparition that changes as one moves through. The resulting chapel is respectful, innovative and inspiring, and quintessentially FdM:Arch.
- Place Houston, TX
- Date 1997
- Client Byzantine Fresco Foundation
- Area 4,000 SF
- Architect Francois deMenil Architect, PC
- Structural Engineer Ove Arup & Partners, New York
- Glass Consultant Carpenter Norris Consulting, New York
- MEP Engineer Ove Arup & Partners, New York
- Landscape Architect Francois deMenil Architect, PC
- Lighting Fisher Marantz Stone
- Contractor Bellows Construction Corp.